Thursday, November 03, 2016

Bent Ribs

A hadith commonly quoted about women is the "bent rib" hadith - of which there are several variations.
An issue of note is the language often used to explain the hadith, which is often condescending & patronizing. Many times it comes off as men telling other men "women - you can't live with them, and you can't live without'em." It's a very wink-wink-nudge-nudge, women-are-so-emotional-&-immature, we just have to tolerate them... at least they're good for something, eh? - type of mentality.
And it made me think - just as the female scholars of old understood ayaat and ahadith to have certain wisdoms based on their own perspectives as women - how would women explain the bent rib hadith?
Ribs are part of the skeletal structure, created a very specific way so as to perform a specific function. A rib is not meant to do the same job as a kneecap, & isn't expected to. We recognize & admire the fact that we *have* ribs, that they are protecting some of our most vulnerable organs. A broken rib hurts like hell. We respect ribs, okay? We don't say, "Oh, well, look at this rib... can't do a femur's job & everyone knows a femur is more important than a rib, & look at how bent that rib is, ugh. Guess we may as well put up with it tho, it's not totally useless."
Terrible analogy aside, let's be real.We women were created by Al-Musawwir, the Fashioner, Who never creates anything half-heartedly or without reason. Does His creation not deserve respect, especially when His Messenger enjoined & emphasized our rights?
We acknowledge that all human beings have shortcomings - male & female. Neither gender is particularly better than the other. Yet in Islamic literature, we see that the language used to address women's 'shortcomings' has a very different tone to it.
"To break her is to divorce her" - such were RasulAllah's words, not to insult, but to warn men of the consequences of trying to force a woman into being someone that she is not. Ya3ni respect her as she is, warts & all, rather than trying to turn her into your personal Stepford wife. (Although that is *not* an excuse for women to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions or striving to improve oneself as a believer and a person.)
It worries me when I see the advice being peddled as "women are crooked/inferior, so just tolerate them as they are." I'm pretty sure that RasulAllah (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam) treated his wives - & all women - with more than just condescending tolerance. It may seem to be a minor thing to quibble over, but language is powerful & influences attitudes & mentalities at a very deep, almost subconscious level.
So many women have told me that they've had fathers or husbands belittle & humiliate them using ahadith such as the bent rib one - which is horrific. How can one use the words of Allah's Messenger, the Mercy to Mankind, as a means of causing pain to another believer? But this is precisely the reality that so many of us experience, directly as a result of the way these ahadith are taught & explained.
The Qur'an tells us: {The believing men and believing women are allies of one another.} (Qur'an 9:71)
How can we be awliyaa' of each other when we have such negative attitudes towards half of our Ummah? More than ever, we need to change how we teach the words of Allah and His Messenger in order to reflect the true spirit of respect and love for the Sake of Allah that we are commanded to have for one another, male and female alike.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Assalamualykum... Just a note dear sister. I wish you'd stick to norms in language (as in avoiding using u, tho , bc and son on). I feel it takes away from the credibility of the substance that you write and makes it look like a rant. Just an observation.

May Allah guide us all to that which is pleasing to Him.